Any biking enthusiast would agree that it would be ideal to be able to ride a custom-made motorcycle, or at least one that would have been adjusted according to a person’s stature and biking style. More importantly however, it is in everyone’s interest to improve road safety and to find ways of reducing the number of motorcycle accidents.
Road accidents involving motorbikes, including a number of fatal ones, have been increasing at an alarming rate in Malta, and this what motivated the idea behind the development of a motorcycle simulator that goes by the name ‘ADAMS’.
It was Prof. Ing. Philip Farrugia from the Department of Industrial & Manufacturing Engineering who came up with the idea to build a comprehensive simulator that supports the design of customised and safer motorcycles, keeping the rider at the centre of the design process. The simulator is characterised by a novel jig immersed in a virtual reality environment.
Prof. Ing. Farrugia is the lead investigator of this project entitled RIDE+SAFE, which is being undertaken by means of a collaboration between the University of Malta and WKD Works Ltd. The project is being financed by the national funding programme FUSION R&I and administered by the Malta Council for Science & Technology (MCST).
ADAMS is in fact an adjustable simulator that’s capable of real-time capture of riders’ postures. Observations and the knowledge generated from studies carried out on the simulator will then be modelled by Artificial Intelligence aimed at guiding the following principles:
- Customers to choose the right motorcycle, riding postures and ergonomic setup
- Designers to develop safer motorcycles
The project gave postgraduate students the opportunity collaborate in the fields of product design and control engineering.
The developers’ idea is for ADAMS to be used by customers in motorcycle showrooms; the simulator is versatile and can be configured for different types of motorcycles, so it would help customers decide on which bikes suit them best as the simulator will indicate the optimum position based on riders’ biometric data.
Ergonomic comfort is an important factor to ensure that bikers are fully focused on the road. The simulator can also be used by motorcycle schools to train new bikers.
The ADAMS simulator can be used to investigate how accident scenarios can be mitigated. Prof. Ing. Philip Farrugia explained that a number of tests that are being undertaken, as well as riders’ feedback to different motorcycle designs will help generate awareness on the way in which design can affect the driving experience.
It is in this way that engineers would then be able to develop safer bikes, while also meeting customers’ needs more accurately.
The simulator idea will be protected by a UK patent and the RIDE+SAFE team will be reaching out to potential investors, including software developers operating in the field of driving simulators, with the intention of commercialising the project.
Aside from Prof. Ing. Farrugia, the team is made up of the following:
- Ing. Sean Agius, who was responsible for the mechanical design and manufacture of the adjustable motorcycle jig
- Adrian Vella from WKD Works Ltd – an expert in motorcycle personalisation who provided guidance on the design of the mock-up motorcycle
- Daniel Cassar, a researcher
- Prof. Ing. Simon G. Fabri from the Department of Systems & Controlled Engineering – he designed the simulator’s motion control system